Rep. Charlie Crist

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist speaks during the gubernatorial public forum hosted by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party on May 28 at Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater in North Miami Beach.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist on Friday, June 3 sent a letter to the U.S. attorney general asking for the resources of the Department of Justice to help ensure Floridians’ voting rights are protected in the upcoming elections.

In the letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Crist wrote that Florida’s laws have disenfranchised citizens and created a “hostility” around the constitutional right to vote.

“America has come a long way from poll taxes, literacy tests, and open intimidation and suppression of minority groups,” Crist said in his letter.

“But in the Sunshine State, what were whispers of Jim Crow-era voter suppression have become a foreboding roar.”

Crist, a Democrat running with the hope of unseating Gov. Ron DeSantis, pointed to the newly created Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Secretary of State’s office. The office was a DeSantis priority during this year’s legislative session.

Crist wrote that the responsibilities of the election force have been made intentionally vague so that anyone can be investigated at any time. He said that the office gives the governor “virtually no guardrails — even a Governor who is on the ballot.”

Crist noted concerns as well with Cord Byrd, DeSantis’ pick for secretary of state. Byrd recently publicly dodged a question about whether President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, saying that there were “irregularities” in other states. Crist also raised questions about Byrd’s wife, who has drawn criticism for a tweet about the Jan. 6 insurrection.

In response to the letter, a spokes-person for the governor wrote in an email that “the best way to protect the rights of Florida’s voters is to ensure that elections are safe and secure.”

The Department of Justice did not return requests for comment on Monday afternoon.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, another Democrat running for governor, sent a similar letter Monday to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke.

In her letter, Fried said the congressional redistricting map passed by the state, which was developed by the governor’s office, is “unconstitutional” and “blatantly discriminatory.” She asked the department to closely monitor Florida officials’ actions related to the election and to take action if necessary.

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